08-03-2012 5:20pm. Accra, Ghana.
“All elders have a brief meeting. All church workers have a group meeting immediately after the service. The Stars will meet outside on the porch, I believe and all dancing stars must assemble back in this hall after all meetings have taken place.” A brother called Nathaniel was giving the announcements at the end of three hour long First Love church service. “Now let’s share the grace.”
The chorus rang across the hall, “Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, the communion, fellowship, the contribution and the participation of the Holy Spirit, be with us now and forever more. Amen.”
Tey chuckled to himself as he remembered the first time he attended Lighthouse Chapel. It was in Korle-Gonno, the southern part of Accra which he was not so unfamiliar with but still uncomfortable in. The grace had felt too long to him and he felt it was unnecessary and overly complicated. He was not sure how he felt about the church and the service he had attended in general. But before he could walk himself out of the building quietly perhaps never to return, he bumped into a lady pastor. She introduced herself as LP Anita and offered to take him home. He was speechless to say the least especially since he had only just realized he had given the last few coins he had brought to church, away as his offering. He had no money to get home and here was someone offering to drive him home, a complete stranger! He accepted the offer and unknowingly to him, accepted the spirit of the church in his heart from that day on.
Seven years later, Tey was now a permanent faithful member of the church and ready to advance in ministry as soon as he was given the go ahead. That day, he was seeking a way to meet the Bishop. The service was dismissed and the congregation was dispersing but not to go to their respective homes. They were quickly regrouping themselves into various meetings with a manner of organization that resembled army officials. Tey found himself walking in the direction of the elders’ meeting. He found the room and introduced himself to Emmanuel and Jacob. He knew them as elders of First Love church from his Facebook, but he was finally meeting them in person. The moment he took a seat by the door however, Bishop D walked in.
“Hello,” the Bishop noticed him as soon as he entered and smiled directly at him. “Do I know you?”
“No Bishop. I’m Lantey Randolph, I arrived in Ghana two days ago from the US.” Lantey offered as an introduction. “And I’m here to work for God.” He added the last bit tentatively and somewhat sheepishly and then he braved up to look Bishop squarely in the face. It took a bit of courage to do this for some reason. Bishop stood just two inches taller than Tey so it wasn’t a matter of David trembling as he faced a Goliath. Tey felt electrified the moment the man of God walked in. Bishop was a man Tey reverenced from his heart because he knew there was so much supernatural accompaniment with his presence. That day the Bishop was dressed in a bright red t-shirt with the inscription, “First Love church”. His hair was all black but in the front there was a tip dyed bright orange. Tey grinned fully when he noticed this. Bishop D was known for his refusal to behave in a manner people termed as “dignified” or “mature”. He was undignified for the Lord and filled with a youthful zest that belied his years. He had named the university campus church which he pastored, “The First Love Church” as a recognition of his need (and their need) to return to the first love one had for God when one was young. Even though he was the overseer of a thousand churches, Bishop D did not see it to be less than his position to pastor a church. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet he was among them as one who served.
“Wow.” He prolonged this word and the room went silent so everyone was paying attention. Eyes swooped to take in this stranger in their midst who claimed to be from the United States. Bishop had a way of talking as though he were joking or pretending but his intention was far from either. “You wanna work for the Lord?”
‘All day long!” A first love elder sang in response from behind the Bishop. The meeting room was now full with about twenty-five elders all in colored t-shirts.
Bishop D had a serious look on his face, but his tone sounded almost as though he were mocking Tey. He walked to the front of the room and addressed the group. “Where is Kamara?” He was referring to the chief elder. Kamara walked in the meeting room promptly as though she had been summoned by Bishop’s question. “Kamara, we’re sending out missionaries today, are we not? Do you have the list? Is it working?” Bishop D had a habit of asking several questions at once. His expectations for subordinates were high and the elders knew that they constantly needed a hard-working and diligent attitude in order to survive working for him in the ministry.
“Yes Bishop, I have the list here-” Kamara started towards him to the front of the room.
“Add this young man’s name to it. I feel that he is called to work for God. You said what is your name again Mr. Man?”
Tey rose to his feet and replied loudly with a confidence he usually did not have, “Bishop I’m Nii Lantey Randolph.”
“Who was your branch pastor?” Bishop asked.
“My pastor was Reverend Bannerman from Connecticut.” Tey replied. Tey’s accent was not American but one could tell that he was a foreigner in the midst of the Ghanaians from how he spoke.
“Okay I’m sending you to Asamankese, to start a new branch. Do you know there?”
“No Bishop.” Tey smiled. Excitement and warmth bubbled up inside of him.
“Okay great. See Kamara after the meeting and stay behind to talk to LP Shelly. There will be a meeting for all missionaries at the Qodesh on Saturday- ” Bishop D kept talking and expanding on activities and plans in the coming week. Tey was only half-listening now. God had opened a door for him! He was in the minstry! He had an assignment! His dream had come to pass. He looked down so no one could see the crazy grin on his dark face. When he looked up again, he heard a flutter of wings and his eyes were opened to see young swans swimming around the Bishop’s head. The anointed man of God was sending him forth to fulfill his ministry. He would go and have hands laid on him. He too, although he was a nobody, the son of Terry Randolph, a petroleum engineer would become a priest. An anointed priest!